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Mary Quant's contributions to Britain's balance of trade prior to the 1960s was considered so worthy, it earned her the Order of the British Empire in 1966. She walked right into Buckingham Palace to receive the award in a mini-skirt. No one else could have gotten away with this but--even though flapper dresses had been worn by American women as early as the 1920s--Quant was able to take the short version of a skirt or dress into the world with an entrepreneurial whirlwind not known to date.
She was born in 1934 and attended the Goldsmith College of Art. She opened a shop, the Bazaar in Chelsea in 1955 and soon she and her husband-to-be were employing mass production methods of dangerously short skirts mostly popular among a small set of Londoners. But once the mini hit the streets of America, it became a topic of controversy and an immensely popular wearable item. Some girls were kicked out of school if they kneeled and their dress didn't hit the floor. Later the debate over the miniskirt faded and major sellers like JC Penney were carrying Quant's lines.
Before the end of the century women would make major strides in deciding their own fashion fates but not before a similar debate flared over women wearing trousers! Quant's story offers a major lesson for those who strive to invent: Without a flair for reaching the public en mass, most new ideas fade away.